Light Rail

Letter: Students Want to be Part of this Community

By Chris Erl
Published July 13, 2011

Dear Mr. Mayor and Members of Hamilton City Council,

To preface this letter appropriately, I provide for you a scenario: the sun rises over the horizon in the east as the city rouses itself for a new day. January winds throw powdered snow down James North, kicking up cigarette butts and other remnants of urban life discarded by the denizens of our burgeoning bohemia.

From the store-top apartments and rejuvenated walkups come legions of students, backpacks filled with necessities and ambitions and whatever else will get them through the day. Armed with their McMaster Student Union-enabled universal transit pass, they march to the King and James LRT station. In just over ten minutes, these eager soldiers of the mind find themselves right in front of McMaster's campus.

To be a student in Hamilton provides a host of unique challenges prospective academics nationwide know little about. Every school has its student village, its local hotspots and trendy shopping districts that appeal to those attending post-secondary education. McMaster students have something different, though, that Hamilton has the opportunity to capitalize on.

Our city is rapidly changing. Even just a few years ago, McMaster students talked exclusively about Westdale or Cootes, with the adventurous souls among us mentioning excursions to the exotic locales of Dundas and Hess Village. Fascination with this city is now commonplace, with students reminiscing about shopping on Locke Street, drinking on Augusta Street and even wanting to move closer to James North.

We need LRT in Hamilton for the simple reason that it will connect the formerly disjointed parts of this city in ways a traditional transit system never could. If students can get from campus to downtown easily, and if they are ambitious enough to locate there, even if just for the length of their degree, they'll be more likely to stay in Hamilton after they graduate.

Similarly, since both McMaster and Hamilton Health Sciences are two of the city's largest employers, employees of those institutions will also find downtown more appealing if a quick route from work to home is available.

As a humanities representative with the McMaster Student Union, I have the opportunity to listen to the concerns of my constituents in much the same way you do. I cannot, in my capacity, speak on behalf of the entire MSU, but I can say with certainty that the humanities students I've talked to adore downtown as soon as they get to know it.

From Art Crawl to vegetarian restaurants, from Bayfront Park to the Farmer's Market, McMaster students want to be a part of this community and help contribute to its promising future.

There is overwhelming support on campus for LRT. As students, we want to see our city become a place where we can live, work, learn and flourish. Please support LRT, not just for the students of today, but for the Hamiltonians of tomorrow.

In solidarity,

Chris Erl
Member of the Student Representative Assembly of the McMaster Students Union

Chris Erl, a born and raised Hamiltonian, has wanted to change the world ever since becoming the Westwood Elementary School Chief Returning Officer in Grade 5. After receiving both a B.A. (Honours) and M.A. from McMaster, Chris decided to purse his passion and study urban planning.

In addition to serving on the City of Hamilton’s LGBTQ Advisory Committee, Chris is also a registered candidate for Public School Board trustee in Wards 1 & 2.


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By Akbar (anonymous) | Posted July 13, 2011 at 21:17:31

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By Akbar (anonymous) | Posted July 13, 2011 at 22:39:51

No, seriously... MAC students have free bus passes still, yes? So wtf is the major obstacle preventing them from going downtown on the bus?

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted July 14, 2011 at 00:03:18 in reply to Comment 66135

They do, in record numbers. The university lines are packed. Ever tried to get on the University bus at King and James in the morning?

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted July 14, 2011 at 09:30:08 in reply to Comment 66135

Yeah, the ridership along the B-line today is probably enough to justify LRT (at least four bus routes go from downtown to Mac, and one or two of those routes typically use articulating buses), never mind projected ridership numbers.

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